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Big Ten Football: 10 New Must-See Matchups in the 16-Team Conference

Nebraska Cornhuskers

The additions of USC and UCLA create new appealing matchups in the Big Ten.

With USC and UCLA shocking the college football world by planning to the Big Ten in 2024, both schools will get drastically different schedules. Their Pac-12 rivalries will be missed, but in come several enticing matchups.

Yes, watching the Trojans and Bruins fly cross-country to face Rutgers and Maryland is going to be odd. And the potential to add Notre Dame to the latest mega-conference would reunite a classic rivalry. But there are quite a few Big Ten matchups with strong history and intrigue.

USC has historically dominated the Big Ten, with a winning record against all 14 schools and a 75-30-2 mark overall. UCLA has more of a mixed record at 47-43-3, but only Michigan, Minnesota, and Nebraska have a winning record against the Bruins.

Time will tell how often these matchups will get to play out, since USC and UCLA will get to play little more than half of the teams in the conference that has reached 16 teams and will likely grow. So no pressure on the schedule-makers, whose work just got a whole lot more interesting

Ohio State-USC

All-Time Series: USC 13-10-1
Last Game: Ohio State 24-7 in the 2017 Cotton Bowl

Undoubtedly the biggest draw of the new Big Ten, this has the potential to be a colossal showdown if Lincoln Riley can build up USC like he did at Oklahoma. Plus, Ohio State has recruited heavily in southern California lately, including Heisman Trophy heavyweight C.J. Stroud.


All-Time Series: USC 6-4
Last Game: USC 32-18 in the 2007 Rose Bowl

Michigan and USC have met 10 times before, and eight were in the Rose Bowl, where the Trojans have a 6-2 edge. It will be fascinating to see how these powerhouse programs fare now that they'll presumably play at their home stadiums instead.

Ohio State-UCLA

All-Time Series: Tied 4-4-1
Last Game: UCLA 13-6 in 2001

Only four schools have faced Ohio State at least six times and avoided a losing record. That would be Michigan, USC, UCLA, and Western Reserve (don't bet on them playing again). We'll see how long that factoid remains true.


All-Time Series: USC 4-0-1
Last Game: USC 45-42 in the 2014 Holiday Bowl

The Huskers have yet to beat USC, although they nearly did eight years ago in their lone bowl matchup. These teams may not hate each other yet, but there's familiarity between Riley and Nebraska with the Oklahoma-Nebraska rivalry.

Related: Expansion Candidates if the Big Ten Expands Beyond USC and UCLA

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All-Time Series: Michigan 8-3
Last Game: UCLA 23-20 in 2000

These programs currently share a connection since both head coaches faced off when they were in the NFL. In 2014, Jim Harbaugh's 49ers beat Chip Kelly's Eagles, and Kelly succeeded him in San Francisco two years later, after Harbaugh left for the Michigan job. Perhaps that can reignite a series that has taken two decades off. 

Penn State-USC

All-Time Series: USC 6-4
Last Game: USC 52-49 in the 2017 Rose Bowl

There have been constant rumblings about James Franklin and the USC job, and now they'll get to face off frequently. USC has won three straight in this series, the last two in the Rose Bowl, so Penn State will have a chance to win its first game in this matchup of elite programs — are you sensing a theme? — since 1996.


All-Time Series: Nebraska 7-5
Last Game: Nebraska 37-29 in the 2015 Foster Farms Bowl

Nebraska fans are well aware that they have yet to make a bowl game under Scott Frost, and their last bowl win came seven seasons ago against UCLA. Could the Bruins' addition to the Big Ten be the spark to turn around this program? 


All-Time Series: USC 6-1
Last Game: Wisconsin 23-21 in the 2015 Holiday Bowl

The Badgers may only have one win against USC, but it came in the only matchup between these schools since 1966. Wisconsin's bruising running game against the Trojans' high-flying passing attack should be a sight to behold.


All-Time Series: UCLA 7-3
Last Game: UCLA 45-28 in the 1986 Rose Bowl

Talk about a contrast in styles, Iowa and UCLA should also make for a fascinating matchup. And if the conference's divisions remain split east-west, these two could face each other quite often.

Michigan State-USC

All-Time Series: Tied 4-4
Last Game: Michigan State 17-16 in the 1990 Sun Bowl

Mel Tucker has Michigan State as a program on the rise, and he may need to continue that trend to continue the Spartans' three-game winning streak against the Trojans. If nothing else, this will reunite one of the best nickname matchups in college football.

Emergency Cover 2 Podcast: USC and UCLA join the Big Ten. Why did these programs make the move and what's next for the Pac-12, Big Ten, ACC, Notre Dame, SEC and Big 12?